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Practicality creates sustainable living. In a family home, the keyword to a comfortable and liveable space is pragmatism. While a large residential building program may pose cumbersome requirements, a practical sensibility ties the whole idea together. In this corner terrace located within the suburban residential district of Singapore, the owners – a multi-generational family of busy professionals – have clear intentions of the house being designed with efficient use of space and practicality as priorities. At the same time, they want something unique. “The clients initially had an ambitious idea to build a 3-storey highwaterfall feature together with an equally expansive green wall,” reveals Tan Cher Ming, Principal Architect at Ming Architects. Having managed to shelf the waterfall and green wall ideas away dueto concerns over maintenance hassles and other prevalent worrying issues, Tan is given carte blanche to express his creativity and develop ideas that echo the owners’ sentiments. And to compensate the lacking of vertical elements (with the multi-story waterfall ideas scraped), a double volume courtyard is introduced into the space. Deemed the most charming space in the house, there is no wonder why this name of this project is coined the ‘Courtyard House’.
Sitting on a very long and narrow site, the original house was not built to its optimal capacity and had inherent problems of inadequate daylight, ventilation and space restrictions. The clients also faced issues of low ceiling heights and insufficient rooms to cater for their growing family. Tan shares that to avoid repetition of the issues faced by the original house, they made sure that the new house is designed to address the issues as optimally as possible, adding that they were glad that it turned out well. Setting itself apart from its neighbours, the first thing that can be seen when approaching the house is a sleek, robust linear architecture with multiple punctuation of varying sizes. The exterior is complete with balconies and timber screens on both its longitudinal and front façade. The cool sleek white façade, which features a consistent chamfered wall detail, is complemented with warm timber tones and further softened with tasteful landscape works. Together, they cohesively create a simple yet sophisticated outlook. The impression of the house’s external outlook is cool, calm and collected. Interior wise, it is a visual feast. Greeting at the entrance of the house is a visual layering of spaces, of which spaces superimpose one another. The spaces are cleverly curated, traversing elegantly to create something different from typical corridors. The living, dining and courtyard areas feature sliding-folding glass doors that glide across the entire length of the room. When the doors are tucked away, the boundaries blur between the spaces and the respective building programmes come to live. The generous use of full-height sliding glass doors also offer and extend inviting views and physical connectivity to the outdoor swimming pool.
“Perhaps the most charming space of the house is the courtyard, which looks like it came out of a movie set,” shares the architect. Flanked between the koi pond and the swimming pool, the double volume courtyard breaks the monotony of spaces in this linear house. It also allows ample daylight to permeate into the key living spaces, creating beautifully lit area for the enjoyment of the family. Spanning 3-storey high, a grand steel staircase feature floats above the koi pond, with a handmade vertical feature wall of specially selected black river pebbles. Across this dramatic architectural space, a narrow bridge cantilevers over the courtyard and ties the front and rear wings of the house together. It is here that the owners and their children’s family centre. As such, the courtyard becomes a fulcrum to the house where both horizontal and vertical movements are endless. It is quite easy to read the spatial planning. The living being
directly opposite the dining area, separated by the open courtyard, provides a direct flow while looking rather spacious. Decked in Burmese Teak wood strips from floor to ceiling, there is a sense of directional quality to this communal area. The space is demarcated using materials on the floor; an alternate of wood and marble. Never a full moment, the dining is a stunning feature in the house. Selected marble against the dry kitchen wall creates visual impact, accentuated by the eccentric hanging lights. Wishbone chairs around a sleek black dining table present anexpensive and elegant setting in the almost-white space. And the pool next to this area seals the deal. On another floor, the bedrooms are simply exquisite. The master chamber opens up to a zen-like setting but tantalises with a spectacle of marble fiesta. The walk-in vanity ensuite bathroom, decked in Carrara marble is designed with such flair and poise. The way the space is demarcated is synonymous to a high-end loft in star-studded hotel chains. The interior colours and material palette are similar to the exteriors. The fine balance of cool and warm is achieved by the combination of beautiful materials like pebbles, Shanxi black granite, Italian White Carrara marble and teak timber wood. Plants, both potted and in pre-casted planters further soften the overall look, bringing a touch of greenery to complement the internal spaces.
Being positioned on higher grounds, the house naturally accommodates an unobstructed view of the surrounding greenery. Capitalising on this view, coupled with the activation of the roof plane into a roof terrace, Tan confides:
“And since the clients frequently entertain guests to their home, we are able to extend their entertainment area beyond the ground plane and onto this roof through the pebbled-walled feature staircase.” Speaking of the rooftop area, is it more than just a hangout lounge. There are spaces for relaxing chilling outs at night or even a family reunion atop the house. Decked in wood strip flooring, the outdoor space invites guests to soak in the moonlight as the skies turn azure. The owners have lived in this house for more than a decade. With this new and refreshing facelift, the Courtyard House is now a brand new ‘home sweet home’ to the owners for the next decade to come. The new reconstruction has given this home a style switch and a new sustainable revive it needed. Being ubiquitously aware of the transformation in contemporary domestic lifestyles, the modest façade and elegant interior spatial expression response to address the design problems that eventually become delightful solutions. The architect’s narratives in the house are translated beautifully through meticulous detailing, ultimately creating a new design language in the home. singapore architects
Toh Yi Road , Singapore
Tan Cher Ming
Tan Cher Ming, Erica Chan
Praxis Construction Pte Ltd
JS Tan Consultants Pte Ltd
WS Surveyorship Pte Ltd
Nyee Phoe Flower Garden Pte Ltd
Burmese Teak timber, brick wall in plaster, paint
Italian Carrara marble, Burmese Teak strip flooring &
ceiling, plaster walls